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When the cloud falls

At the recent Dell EMC Africa Partner Summit, partners from all over Africa gathered in one place to share information, and many of those discussions focused on cloud. BRAD PULFORD,  GM for Channel & Distribution at Dell EMC South Africa, offers insight into why many customers fail with cloud.

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Becoming a cloud-first business is fantastic – and that’s putting it mildly. Companies that adopted a cloud-first business model recover 96 times faster from a disaster, spend less than half the time on security than their peers and are more than twice as effective at retaining talent than competitors. Embracing the cloud makes a lot of business sense.

This message is not lost on companies, but unfortunately wanting something and executing it successfully are two very different things. As cloud adoption accelerates, it is becoming clear that many organisations, big and small, are struggling to make the change and see real value. Why is this happening?

“Cloud is a very fluid word right now,” said Pulford. “Consumers all have different consumption needs. But because they treat cloud as a destination and not a shift in their business model, they often end up with what doesn’t work for their needs.”

What is cloud?

So companies aren’t seeing the value, because they still don’t grasp what cloud is and how to align it with their world. Let’s take the conversation back to its basics: what is cloud? According to the US-based National Institute of Standards and Technology, cloud has five essential characteristics:

  • on-demand self-service
  • broad network access
  • resource pooling
  • rapid elasticity or expansion, and
  • measured service

These can be found in three service models – software, platform and infrastructure – and four deployment models, namely private, community, public and hybrid.

This is already a mouthful, so no wonder companies are not up for the due diligence required. The IT industry isn’t helping: vendors and service providers are too likely to try and shoehorn a customer into one of their services, ignoring the nuanced needs of the business.

Forget the jargon

But fortunately, you don’t have to become a cloud fundie to make sense of this. There is a much simpler and more practical way forward, Pulford explained:

“Cloud impacts your company’s workloads, meaning the data and tasks that your business systems are running. That is where your perspective lives. The nature of a workload says a lot of the kind of cloud it is looking for. You should start by profiling the applications in your organisation.”

A common mistake companies make is they get stuck on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) as a viable cloud model. This is cloud’s most visible wave of change and involves letting go of underlying infrastructure, paying purely for the service. For example, using Office365 to manage email, calendar and Office functions such as spreadsheets.

But what about a SAP ERP? Such a system often involves many customisations that are unique to the business. Replicating those tweaks requires a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) or even Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) approach, if the business wants more control over the nuts and bolts behind the applications. Some business applications may need to be virtualised through a hypervisor such as VMWare. Others might be better when separated into several services.

Certain workloads may work best if temporarily shifted to a hyperscale cloud environment – essentially a supercomputer on steroids – where they can be concluded faster or take advantage or special services there, like AI for business analytics. A payroll workload can go from days to minutes if the right cloud model is applied. All this can even happen inside a company on its own private cloud and hand-picked infrastructure. Something such as a flash-storage array can quadruple a system’s performance several times over.

“What are the applications at the core of your business?” Pulford asked. “Can they be modernised with cloud-native versions? Should they be virtualised? What is the best cloud can offer for those particular workloads? And what are the business benefits that you will see from the different cloud options? That is the way to approach cloud – not cloud for cloud’s sake, but cloud for the sake of your applications.”

Most cloud implementations fail because they are not considered from the business and business application perspectives. Instead, customers are dazzled with cost and performance metrics. Those are very achievable, but only if the migration is from a business-first perspective.

What does your business need? The answers lie with your applications, so start there…

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New iPhone pricing for SA

The iStore has announced that the latest iPhones, the Xs and Xs Max, can now be pre-ordered at www.myistore.co.za , and will be available in stores starting 28 September 2018.

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iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max feature 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch Super Retina displays that offer remarkable brightness and true blacks while showing 60 percent greater dynamic range in HDR photos. iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max have an improved dual camera system that offers breakthrough photo and video features, A12 Bionic chip with next-generation Neural Engine, faster Face ID, wider stereo sound, longer battery life, splash and water resistance,

Pre-orders will be open for cash purchases and on iStore’s revised payment plan in partnership with FNB Credit Card, allowing customers to pay off their iPhone at a reduced interest rate. However, the contract period is 37 months rather than the usual 24 months.
*FNB Credit Card Payment Plan, price per month over 37 months, a 40% trade-in value after 24 months

How to pre-order – Pre-ordering online for either cash or the FNB payment plan gives customers the benefit of reserving their purchase without having to queue and the added convenience of having purchases delivered directly to their door. Pre-orders of iPhone Xs and Xs Max are completed online by visiting www.myistore.co.za.
FREE iCare Plus – Exclusive to iStore, all customers can get its 2-year extended warranty, which includes one Apple Certified screen repair, that normally sells for R1 999, for FREE. To qualify, customers should secure a voucher online now at www.myistore.co.za , and subsequently redeem it when they upgrade their contract or purchase any new iPhone at iStore (iPhone 8 and newer) between now and 31 December 2018. Offer is limited, secure your voucher now.

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Accenture opens Fjord design centre in Johannesburg

Accenture has launched its first design and innovation studio on African soil, Fjord Johannesburg.

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The company says the move significantly expands its design capabilities and demonstrates its commitment to unlocking Africa’s innovation potential through the creation of experiences that redefine industries in our constantly evolving digital era.

The new studio, opening in November, will be located at Accenture’s new 3875m² offices in Waterfall. It will be led by Marcel Rossouw, design director and studio lead for Fjord Johannesburg.

Said Rossouw, “Brands are constantly asking, ’how does one take a business need or problem, build that out into a definition of a service experience, and then bring it to market?’ It’s about re-engineering existing service experiences, identifying customer needs, prototyping rapidly, iterating often and proving or disproving assumptions. But it’s also about getting feedback from customers. The combination of these factors helps companies advance towards the ultimate service experience.”

Fjord is the design and innovation consultancy of Accenture Interactive. The Johannesburg location marks its 28th design studio globally, solidifying its position as the world’s leading design powerhouse.

Working in the same location as Accenture Interactive will allow Fjord to fuse its core design strategy DNA with the digital agency’s expertise in marketing, content and commerce to create and deliver the best customer experiences for the world’s leading brands. Accenture Interactive Africa‘s blend of intelligent design and creative use of technology has already been used by some of South Africa’s largest and most prominent brands, including Alexander Forbes, Discovery, MultiChoice and Nedbank. The digital agency has also earned industry accolades for its innovative and compelling business results, most notably two gold awards in the Service Design category at the 2017 and 2018 Loeries awards.

“Great design tells great stories,” says Wayne Hull, managing director of Accenture Digital and Accenture Interactive lead in Africa. “It unifies a brand, drives innovation and makes the brand or service distinctive and hyper-relevant in both the digital and physical worlds. This is critical to achieving results. Having Fjord Johannesburg as part of Accenture Interactive, and collaborating with all of Accenture Africa, will provide unique experiences and forward-thinking capabilities for our clients.”

“Businesses in South Africa are becoming more design-aware and are looking to take greater advantage of design skills to compete with the rest of the world,” said Thomas Müller, head of Europe, Africa and Latin America at Fjord. “We’re excited to open our first design studio on the continent and to be part of an emerging market that is ripe for design and innovation, and open for business. Developing markets like South Africa are challenging assumptions and norms about what digital services and products are meant to be, and we’ll strive to put design at the heart of the innovation being produced there.”

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